To the Clergy,
The Religious Men and Women,
The Catholic faithful of the Diocese of Chipata And all people of goodwill.
I greet you all in the Name of Jesus Christ, the King of Peace!

As it has been repeatedly said, the Church has a God-given mandate to be the voice of conscience to the nation and speak on behalf of the poor and less privileged in society. Not only that, the Church is also morally obliged to exercise its prophetic role by calling for a spirit of love, unity, justice, peace and reconciliation in our beloved country. Indeed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering ofsight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).

Therefore, as your Pastor and conscious of this prophetic ministry that I have, I write in a spirit of reading and interpreting the signs of our time. I also wish to share with you my concerns on the situation in the nation, especially what has been happening in the recent days. Among many things, I have noticed the growing trend of political intolerance as evidenced by political threats issued by leaders on both sides of the political divide in Zambia, the ruling party (UPND) and the Opposition. The nation has also witnessed several unacceptable utterances of hate speech and tribal remarks. As if that was not enough, there was a “disappearance” and a “reappearance” of the Independent Member of Parliament for PetaukeCentral, Hon. Emmanuel Jay Banda and subsequent arrests of Independent Member ofParliament for Lumezi, Hon. Munir Zulu MP , PF Member of Parliament for Mfuwe Constituency, Honorable Maureen Mabonga, Ms. Edith Nawakwi, and Mr. Brebner Changala. Such acts and incidences, if left unchecked, have a potential to heighten the levels of tension and division in the country.

Certainly, this is not what the people of Zambia expect in the run-up to the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of our Country’s Independence later in the year. It is in view of the above that I wish to register my utter displeasure of and strongly condemn these trends. In addition, I call upon the Government to provide the needed leadership, and not only to verbally condemn but bring to book all those who are found of engaging in divisive and retrogressive type of politics. I also urge the Zambia Police Service to be objective, fair, balanced and professional in the application of the law, especially in view of public order. The incident in the Office of our Brother Bishop, Rt. Rev. Clement Mulenga, Bishop of Kabwe had none of the above traits. Police officers are supposed to and must be exemplary in following the Rule of Law since they are in-charge of keeping law and order. I further strongly appeal to the Police Service Personnel to always endeavour to act in a manner that ensures and is seen to guarantee that citizens’ rights are respected, protected and not violated. Above all, I appeal to our political leaders both in Government and in the Opposition to be open to constructive and fair criticism and focus their energy in addressing the critical concerns raised by citizens especially that of the rising cost of living as well as the food and energy crisis arising from the impact of climate change. I am also deeply concerned about Chipata-Chama, KateteChanida Border and Chipata-Chadiza roads that have repeatedly been mentioned in speeches at public gatherings. To date, no sign of any machinery on site to begin works on these roads.

To the Clergy, Religious Men and Women and all the Catholic Faithful in the diocese, I urge you to embrace a calm spirit and be active promoters of National Unity. Having just celebrated the Solemnity of Pentecost, I pray that the spirit of truth, justice, love, unity, forgiveness and gentleness will continue to guide our work and interactions with others, regardless of one’s Tribe, Language, Gender, Creed or Political Affiliation. Do not be tempted to resort to the language of anger, a spirit of vengeance, tribalism and division as sometimes employed by those who are motivated by a political agenda. Our motivation is anchored on Gospel Values and not political agendas. Let us religiously protect our dignity as Catholics and the nobility of our Religious and Priestly Vocation. Our dignity in Christ is not best demonstrated in hitting back, but in love, forgiveness and reconciliation. However, this does not mean that the Church will abandon its prophetic call. Rather, the Church will always remain committed to courageously speak the truth and advocate for social justice, but always in a non-partisan, truthful and fair manner.

I call upon you all to recite and live out the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument ofyour peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love.

Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bringfaith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light. Where there is sadness, let me bringjoy.

O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

Indeed, let us remain united in prayer for the unity of our beloved country, Zambia.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and Peace (Galatians 1 :3)

Signed and released at. St. Anne’s Cathedral, on 29th May, 2024, by:
Right Reverend George Cosmas Zumaire Lungu, Bishop of Chipata.

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